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Customer battles Sterling Bank over N219m fraud

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A microfinance institution, OHHA Microfinance Bank Limited, has accused Sterling Bank Plc of defrauding it of N219 million it deposited with the bank.

The accusation was made in a letter to Sterling Bank by OHHA Microfinance Bank’s lawyers, Festus Keyamo Chambers. Dated 20 February and jointly signed by Messrs B.I Dakum and John Ainetor, the letter stated that OHHA Microfinance Bank operates two fixed deposit accounts (No. 514/1152051/74/0 Deal Ref. Slip No. DD No. 0138058 and No. 514/11520505/1/74/1 Deal Ref. Slip No. DD No.0133059) with Sterling Bank.

Both accounts, it said, have been operated for years and contain a deposit of N219million. The accounts said the microfinance bank was operated by Mr. Oliver Anidiobi, manager of Sterling Bank Market Road branch, Enugu State, who also doubles as its account manager.

While the accounts were in operation, OHHA Microfinance Bank said it exchanged many letters with Sterling Bank. In each of its replies, OHHA Microfinance Bank added, Sterling Bank confirmed the existence of the accounts and informed that the microfinance bank’s investment would be rolled over at Sterling Bank’s prevailing money market rate.

However, OHHA Microfinance Bank said that when it instructed Sterling Bank to terminate the fixed deposit and credit its current account on maturity with the principal and accrued interest, the latter refused.  This made OHHA Microfinance Bank to briefed O. A. Omotayo and Associates, a law firm, which made the same demands.

Sterling Bank, added OHHA Microfinance Bank, admitted the existence of the accounts but denied the existence of any fixed deposit investment.

It went ahead to claim that the deposit certificates presented by OHHA Microfinance Bank were forged. The bank also put up a defence for Mr. Anidiobi, whom it admitted to having handed over to the law enforcement agents over allegations of forgery.

“Having admitted that your staff Mr. Oliver Anidiobi is liable for forgery, which same offence has been committed while he was in your employment, we make bold to say you are vicariously liable for whatever Mr. Oliver Anidiobi would have done in the normal cause of his business as your branch manager. It is no doubt, you employed the said manager and presented him as a worthy staff for unsuspecting customers to deal with him, which our client did in good faith. It is safe to infer that you have defrauded our clients of the sum of N219million,” said the letter.

On that basis, OHHA Microfinance Bank is demanding that its current account (0023325543) with the sum of N219 million within seven days of the service of the letter. It warned that in the event of a default, it will take every legal step to ensure the recovery of its investments with accrued interest.

Efforts to reach Mr. Henry bassey, Chief Marketing Officer, Brand Management & Communication Group of Sterling Bank for the lender’s angle to the allegations proved futile as his mobile line was not available as at press time.

 

The letter is produced below.

OPEN LETTER TO STERLING BANK PLC

20th February, 2018

The Managing Director,

Sterling Bank Plc,

20 Marina,

Lagos.

Dear Sir,

UNLAWFUL CONVERSION OF THE SUM OF N219,000,000.00 (TWO HUNDRED AND NINETEEN MILLION NAIRA) BELONGING TO OHHA MICROFINANCE BANK LTD

DEMAND TO CREDIT OHHA MICROFINANCE BANK LTD  CURRENT ACCOUNT NUMBER 0023325543 WITH THE SUM OF N219,000,000.00 (TWO HUNDRED AND NINETEEN MILLION NAIRA)

We are solicitors to Ohha Microfinance Bank Ltd on whose firm instructions we write you.

Our client briefed us that it has a two fixed deposit accounts with you with Account No. 514/1152051/74/0 Deal Ref. Slip No. DD No. 0138058 and Account No. 514/11520505/1/74/1 Deal Ref. Slip No. DD No. 0133059.

That they have operated the said accounts with you for some years and deposited the sum of N219,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Nineteen Million Naira) in the said deposit accounts through your Branch Manager, Market Road Branch, Enugu State, Mr. Oliver Anidiobi who also doubles as its Account Manager.

While operating the said Accounts, our client exchanged several correspondences with you wherein you confirmed the existence of the said Accounts and also informed them that their investment would be rolled over at the Bank’s prevailing money market rate.

Our client was surprised when it instructed you to terminate the Fixed Deposit and Credit its Current Account on maturity with the principal and accrued interest but you remained adamant. Consequent upon your failure to carry out its instruction, it briefed the law firm of O. A. Omotayo & Associates who made the same demands to you but you responded reluctantly wherein you admitted the existence of the said accounts but denied the existence of any fixed deposit investment by our client.

You further claimed that the Deposit Certificate presented to our client were forged and tried to defend Mr. Oliver Anidiobi whom you also admitted to have handed over to the law enforcement agents in connection with allegations of forgery.

Having admitted that your staff Mr. Oliver Anidiobi is liable for forgery which same offence has been committed while he was in your employment, we make bold to say you are vicariously liable for whatever Mr. Oliver Anidiobi would have done in the normal cause of his business as your Branch Manager. It is no doubt, you employed the said Manager and presented him as a worthy staff for unsuspecting customers to deal with him which our client did in good faith. It is safe to infer that you have defrauded our clients of the sum of N219,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Nineteen Million Naira).

Consequently, we have our client’s instructions to demand that you credit its Current Account with you: 0023325543 with the sum of  N219,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Nineteen Million Naira) within  SEVEN (7) DAYS from the date of service of this notice on you, failure to yield to our demands shall leave us with no option than to set all the machineries of law in motion to ensure our client’s investments with accrued interest in the above mentioned accounts are duly recovered.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

For: Festus Keyamo Chambers

B.I. DAKUM, ESQ

Counsel

JOHN AINETOR, ESQ

Assistant Head of Chambers

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BUSINESS

Microsoft 4Afrika partners FirstBank to support SMEs  

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On 18 January 2019, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, together with Microsoft 4Afrika, will host a free-to-attend event for SMEs in Nigeria, designed to promote technology adoption and skills development.

The event will serve as an official launch of the new partnership between Microsoft 4Afrika and FirstBank, following a memorandum of understanding signed earlier in June 2018. The partnership seeks to build the capacity of local SMEs andaccelerate their digital transformation, by providing them with exclusive and tailored non-financial solutions. Participants will be exposed to skills development resources, access to business networks and an educational platform.

According to Taiwo Shonekan, Head Customer Experience and Value Management, First Bank of Nigeria Limited: “This partnership with Microsoft enables us to deliver a portfolio of non-financial solutions to our SME customers. We have over the last 125 years supported SMEs in building their business, whilst contributing to the national economy. This partnership is a landmark step in our quest to leverage the influence of technology in businesses, especially in today’s digital age.”

“With this partnership, FirstBank customers can buy Microsoft products at discounted rates in the local currency – the naira – as this seamlessly aids technology adoption, skills and capacity development among SMEs in Nigeria,” she adds.

Amrote Abdella, Regional Director of the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative and the keynote speaker for the event says: “For SMEs, integrating technology into their operations is no longer an option, but a necessity for future growth and success. We’re looking forward to engaging in discussions that explore how technology can extend reach to new markets and improve productivity, which results in better customer service, more competitive offerings and the ability to act with agility.”

Across the continent, Microsoft 4Afrika is forging partnerships with several players in the SME ecosystem – from banks to telcos – to enhance SME offerings and reach a broader audience.

“Technology and the relevant digital skills today play such an integral role in business success. We’re working with organisations to extend this support to as many SMEs as possible, ensuring not only their success, but the growth and competiveness of our continent in an increasingly digital world.”

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BUSINESS

Access Bank, Diamond Bank to unveil new identity after merger

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The corporate identity of Access Bank Plc may have to change after the conclusion of its merger with Diamond Bank Plc in June 2019, Mr Herbert Wigwe and Mr Uzoma Dozie, CEOs of Access Bank and Diamond Bank respectively hinted in Lagos recently

While addressing customers of the financial institution, Mr Dozie said Access Bank will retain its name after the merger, while Diamond Bank will definitely lose its.

However, he disclosed that the new corporate identity of the new enlarged bank will reflect individual identities of the two merging lenders.

Late last year, Diamond Bank, a tier-1 one lender and Access Bank, a tier-2 financial institution, confirmed that they were coming together to become one.

This came after both companies had initially denied media reports that they were planning such move.

At the customer forum in Lagos, Mr Dozie, while responding to a question on whether the enlarged bank will have a new name, said, “I believe that the name will be Access Bank, but the identity will be the one that is recognised by both Access Bank and Diamond Bank.

“So, it will be……just as we have come here today to inform you of what we are doing and get your feedback, we are also going to have a customer forum to help us decide what is the best identity that when people see, they will say this is Diamond Bank, this is Access Bank.”

Giving more insight into Mr Dozie’s point, Mr Wigwe said, “Let me just add to that point, if you go to global banks like Barclays Bank and HSBC that have gone through mergers and acquisitions, you can keep an identity, but you can also make sure you reflect the identity of the different institutions and what they do.

“So, the retail will look like what you see in Diamond Bank so you don’t lose your connection; that is how it happens.

“If you look at the corporate logo and how things will come out, you will not see that you’ve not lost anything.

“Same thing for Access Bank customers, because you know we were also at the corporate end. We also have to be mindful of these customers as well.

“So, we have to do something that will sit nice for Access Bank customers and also sit nice for the retail business of Diamond Bank.”

At the moment, Access Bank logo has ‘access’ written in white colour on a blue background strip with three orange colour ‘>’ sign placed at the end of the word (access>>>).

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UBA Customers win N30m in Wise Savers promo, N90m still up for grabs

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Group Executive, Digital & Consumer Banking, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Anant Rao; Officer, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Abideen Onifade; Executive Director, UBA Plc, Liadi Ayoku; Regional Head Lagos, UBA Plc, Aminat Tunji-Akinwande; Head, Retail Liabilities, UBA Plc, Tomiwa Sotiloye; and Marketing Monitoring and Enforcement Officer, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Nwanneka Ezeani, at the First Quarter Draw of UBA Wise Savers Promo where 20 Savings Account Holders won N1.5m each, in Lagos on Tuesday

Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has rewarded 20 loyal customers with N1,500,000 each, in the first edition of its quarterly draw for the ongoing UBA Wise Savers Promo, which was held at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos on Tuesday.

At the event, a total of N30,000,000 was won by 20 lucky customers who were selected following a draw that was witnessed by key regulatory officials including representatives of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, (NLRC); Lagos State Lottery, Board, (LSLB) Consumer Protection Council (CPC) as well as members of the media.

To qualify for the draws, new and existing customers of the bank are expected to save at least N10,000 each month for three consecutive months, or N30,000 for 90 days in the  promo, which will run for the rest of the year. Apart from the N30 million won by 20 customers on Tuesday,  another N90 million is still expected to be won by 60 more loyal customers in the remaining three quarters of the year.

The winners, who cut across all regions of the country, are: Nnadumije, Ebube Dawn; Onwochei Christiana Okwukwe; Eze Mathias Nnaji; Christian N Orie; Uka, Okwudiri; Okata Stephen Uche; Okafor Onyinye Esther; Nwanekezi Chimezie Jude; Ayomide V Yahaya and Olanegan, Oyetunde Keji.

Others are Emmanuel Onu Chidozie; Mohammed Fatima; Aminu, Mustapha; James Nanre; Pahinti Albert; Emmanuel O Adeniji; Jaki Movihinze Mercy; Saminu Muritala Mohammed; Ezeh Raphael Uballa; Uchenna Iheji.

When contacted on the phone, one of the 20 lucky winners; Nnadumije, Ebube Dawn, excitedly  expressed gratitude to the bank and said he was happy to be a customer of the bank. He thanked the bank, and said the move was thoughtful and will help to enrich customers especially during these trying economic times.

The Group Executive, Digital and Consumer Banking, Mr. Anant Rao, who addressed participants at the event, said the promo was launched as part of the bank’s initiatives towards prioritising customers. He added that customers who save consistently would be rewarded in order to promote the financial inclusion initiatives of the bank.  ‘We believe it is time we rewarded our customers who have been very loyal over the years. Without them, we would not have made the giant strides attained thus far’ .

According to Rao, “Because our customers are invaluable to all that we do, we listen and give them nothing short of the best that they deserve’

“We remain committed to consistently improving customer service and rewarding our loyal customers. The Wise Savers Promo seeks to compliment current initiatives aimed at growing savings,” he noted.

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